Experts at the recently concluded Africa Session of the International Telecoms Week conference in Chicago have described terrestrial fibre constraints as the mother of all bottlenecks obstructing growing Internet penetration on the continent, including Nigeria.
The discussions were mainly on infrastructure challenges, regulatory and economic constraints that disrupts increased internet access and proliferation of broadband across the continent.
While making his presentation at the event with the theme “Enabling Content on the African Continent”, Guy Zibi, Chief Executive Officer of research firm, Xalam Analytics, says that the international capacity challenge has been solved, with most coastal countries exhibiting an oversupply of subsea cables serving Africa .
He however explained that the limited availability of terrestrial open-access fibre which are very low in majority of the markets especially countries like Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and Tanzania made the reach of such capacity still limited.
“These limitations have translated into retail connectivity prices as a proportion of income being 2X more expensive in Africa compared to Latin America and the Caribbean and 3X when compared to Asia”, he added.
Stating the risk of deepening the continent’s digital divide with services limited to narrow addressable markets and Africa’s inability to fully partake in the fourth industrial revolution Zibi stressed the need for more aggressive implementation of terrestrial infrastructure, especially in metropolitan and local networks to reach the end users and enhance affordability.
Similarly, a team consisting of high-level representation from Orange, MTN GlobalConnect, MainOne and Kwese urged African policy makers to suggest incentives to encourage the deployment of broadband infrastructure of scale to support the rollout of much needed infrastructure to rural areas.
The Africa Panel session at International Telecommunications Week (ITW) which was hosted by MainOne sets a platform for players to share perspectives on the opportunities and challenges across the region with a global audience.